Admit it, you overdid it. Mom cooked her ass off this year, and Whole Foods was ON POINT with their pecan pies. So now it’s time to turn your lunch break into belly flab rehab by hitting the healthiest new spots near your office. Yep, that means you can kiss these, and these, and definitely these goodbye. (For a few weeks, at least.) Hit the kale hard for lunch, because there’s always dinner.
The DGS Delicatessen team is launching a lunch-only offshoot in its basement specializing in hummus (made fresh daily). Because bowls are the only thing hotter than Star Wars, that’s how you’ll order. Five bowls feature a hummus base and various savory toppings. One has chopped pastrami and pickled mustard seeds to remind you of what’s upstairs, while another is a rosy beacon with roasted beets, soft yogurt, and hazelnut dukka. Prices run from $9-$12 a bowl, and they all come with warm pita and salad with sumac-honey dressing. Here’s hoping Little Sesame gives Philadelphia’s cultish Dizengoff some regional competition.
Challah devotee in need of penance for your carbo-loading sins? Get to gluten-free newcomer, The Little Beet. Sure, it’s a New York import, but don’t knock it until you try it. The healthy menu comes from a chef who learned to cook and eat right after a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis at age 27. The menu entices with three main lunch options: plates made up of a protein, such as salmon or steak paired with sides; rice bowls like salmon tartare or banh mi chicken (pictured); and salads packed with veggies. Pair whatever you order with a cold-pressed juice so you can carry it around like a merit badge for trendiness.
These rolls are pure gold. Burrito in size, Buredo’s punched up take on sushi marries super fresh sashimi and spunky vegetables and sauces. Quentin Tarantino fans will dig the names of the rolls, including the breadwinning Beatrix (pictured) with tuna, salmon, and pickled cabbage; the indulgent Sofie with shrimp tempura and Sriracha mayo; or the land-based Crazy 88 with slow cooked pork shoulder and kimchi slaw. Although Buredo’s McPherson Square pin drop is already convenient, Buredo tends to pop up on Uber Eats once a week -- meaning these burritos can be car-catapulted to your door in 10 minutes.
One step into SKWR, and you can smell meat spinning on a spit; a few more steps in and you can see it. The shop, from the sons of Reston Kabob industry vets, blends the flavors of hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern gems with the build-it-yourself ordering with which we’re clearly obsessed. Don’t be too quick to label it a Cava Grill copycat. The flavors lean more Afghani than Greek -- though Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines share commonalities like tangy yogurt sauces and a love of lamb. Build a bowl out of greens and grains, or go the wrap route and start crafting. You’ll pick a protein first (we dig the chicken), then layer on spreads like apple chutney, toppings like peynir cheese, and finally a sauce (you want za’atar yogurt aioli).
At Fruitive you can drink your lunch, but you don’t have to. The plant-devoted juice bar and restaurant serves liquid meals like the Peaches & Greens (pictured); salads with clever names like Hail to the Kale; and sandwiches including the eye-catching collard wrap that replaces a tortilla with sturdy, grabbable greens. Mondays shouldn’t be the only day you go meatless when gooey sandwiches like the Tuscan Kale Grilled Wrap are out there. A tortilla houses kale, butternut squash, quinoa, broccoli, garbanzo beans, caramelized onion, addictive basil pesto mayo, and Mediterranean dressing. They might try to talk you into a juice cleanse, but baby steps. Baby steps.
Chaia should come with a “you won’t miss the meat” guarantee. The vegetarian taco restaurant that started as a popular farmer’s market pick now has a permanent home. No more waiting until Sunday for corn tortillas stuffed with nature’s candy. Order a set of three tacos for $11 with fillings like Moroccan-spiced carrots with goat cheese; creamy kale and potatoes in poblano crema; and mushrooms with feta. Chaia is fast. Your vegetable-stuffed tacos will be ready in minutes, but do yourself a favor and dine in. The setting is serene, soothing even (especially the upstairs), with its bright whites, warm woods, and potted succulents. It’s the clutter-free condo of your dreams. Drink-wise, they hit a hat trick: cold-pressed juice from Misfit Juicery, Vigilante Coffee, and even wine or local beer.
If you listen to José Andrés speak enough times, you might notice he plays favorites with words. One of them is “unleashed.” He even dropped it during his Top Chef guest appearance this season. It fits, then, that his healthy, quick bites concept, Beefsteak, carries the motto, “Vegetables, Unleashed.” Thanks to line-drawing popularity at the original Foggy Bottom locale, Dupont got a Beefsteak, too. Now all the non-profit worker bees surrounding the circle can swing down for blanched veggies in bowls like the Frida Kale or Eden (pictured). Don’t skip the seasonal specials, which right now include a beet burger and carrot miso soup.
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Laura Hayes is a DC-based food, drink & travel writer who also contributes to Washington City Paper, Food Network, Arlington Magazine, and others. If Buredo is on Uber Eats, she’s ordering it. Follow her on Twitter @BTMenu.
1. Little Sesame Hummus Shop1319 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington
2. The Little Beet1212 18th St NW, Washington
3. Buredo825 14th St NW, Washington
4. SKWR Kabobline1400 K St NW, Washington
5. Fruitive1094 Palmer Aly NW, Washington
6. Chaia3207 Grace St NW, Washington
7. Beefsteak800 22nd St NW, Washington
From the team behind DGS Delicatessen comes Little Sesame Hummus Shop, a "Chipotle of" well, hummus. Each bowl comes with a hummus base plus savory toppings and warm pita bread, perfect for your lunch break.
This healthy, gluten-free lunch spot offers plates, rice bowls and salads, plus cold-pressed juice so you can really pack in all your fruit and veggie needs in one sitting.
It's like sushi, except massive. Can we get a YASS queen!?
A fast-casual spot, perfect for lunch, SKWR Kabobline serves up high quality kabobs in wrap or bowl form. Pick from different proteins, spreads, toppings and sauces to create your perfect kabob meal.
With smoothies, pressed juice, berry bowls, salads and wraps, Fruitive has the health food trend thing down. While we're not usually ones to drink our meals, Fruitive's Coconut Colada and Chocolate Covered Cherry smoothies might have us convinced on the whole liquid lunch front.
What was once just a stand at a farmer's market, is now a full fledged vegetarian taco joint in a cute and airy brick house in Georgetown serving up Mexican-inspired fare born straight of their still very close ties with nearby farmers. Corn tortillas made by hand daly are stuffed up with mushroom, green bean, potato, corn, or eggplant bases and topped with flavorful fillings like cheeses, cilantro, chives, salsa, eggs, and jalapenos.
Considering its name, you'd expect this Foggy Bottom-adjacent spot to be a masculine, meat-centric spots where artery-clogging, beefy burgers and juicy steaks reign supreme. However, it's quite the contrary -- this goofy, cartoon-like restaurant serves up fare that's healthy and predominately vegetarian and vegan -- like their bowls, which come with a grain base (bulgur, quinoa, or rice) and veggies, sauces, meat or meat substitutes, and burgers that ditch greasy beef patties and opt for ripe and juicy tomato slices instead.